Pakistan Election Results 2018 updates: 5 parties allege poll rigging as PTI emerges in lead; Imran Khan's party says open to recounting

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By FP Staff


02:22 (IST)

Unprecedented delay in declaration of results, say journalists  The Guardian quoted several journalists, who had covered elections in Pakistan over a number of years, as saying that the delay in declarations of results was unprecedented.  "I've been covering elections for over twenty-five years and this is the first time that it is one in the morning and until now we barely have 20 percent of the results. Why are the results so late? The election commission has to answer for this. This is really alarming," Geo News’ Hamid Mir said. It is instructive to note here that all major political parties, arguably for the first time in Pakistan's history, have alleged some or the other form of electoral malpractices and claimed that the polls were rigged. The only exception to this remains Imran Khan-led PTI which has emerged as the single-largest party in trends, after getting just 35 seats in 2013 polls. 

02:16 (IST)

Latest trends: 27% results counted till now, PTI is the single-largest party  The election commission has so far announced 27 percent of the total votes cast. According to the official website, following was the status of each party in National Assembly results.  PTI leads on 109 seats ​ PML-N ahead on 67 seats  PPP takes lead at 41 seats In provincial results, following is the status.  Punjab - PML-N (133), PTI (122), Independents (28) Sindh - PPP (70), PTI (22), MQM(18) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - PTI (64), ANP (9), MMA (9)​ Balochistan- BAP (12), BNP (09), MMA (9)

02:07 (IST)

'The facade has been stripped away': Bilawal Bhutto's sister Aseefa Zardari slams poll panel for acting like 'pawns'

02:02 (IST)

PML-N will explore legal, political action for redressal of glaring excesses, says Shehbaz Sharif  "We will use all political and legal options for redressal of these glaring excesses. This is an outright rigging and the results based on massive rigging will cause irreparable damage to the country. ECP should give strict instructions for issuance of the Form 45. It completely failed in its main responsibility of holding free, fair and transparent elections. A serious blow has been dealt to the democratic process of the country. We are convening the meeting of the party's Central Executive Committee tomorrow to decide on the next course of action. We will then hold consultations with other political parties to agree on a shared set of actions. This matter cannot be allowed to go unattended," Shehbaz said in a series of tweets.  He also said, "I have not seen the kind of malpractices done today after the polling time expired in my whole political career. We heard complaints from the whole country that Form 45 was not being given & the polling agents of the party were driven out."​

01:37 (IST)

PTI largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, second in line in Sindh  According to latest trends, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has emerged as the single-largest party in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and is set to make a come back in the state Assembly. It has also managed to emerge as the second largest party in Sindh province, traditionally considered a PPP bastion.  

01:30 (IST)

PTI second largest party in Punjab, but may form alliance govt if PML-N falls short of majority mark  The PTI has managed to make inroads in PML-N's bastion Punjab. Even though the Nawaz Sharif-led party is leading in Punjab Assembly results with 137 seats but PTI is not too behind with 117 seats. Several political analysts predict that a forward block is in the offing as Imran Khan's party may try to form an alliance government in the Punjab province as well.   

01:25 (IST)

'Inexcusable and outrageous,' Bilawal Bhutto reacts to poll trends   

01:23 (IST)

Latest trends: PTI emerges as single-largest party in unofficial trends  According to the latest trends by the election commission, PTI has emerged as the single-largest party with leads on 110 seats. The PML-N, which had a majority government in the outgoing Parliamnet is limited to 69 seats and the PPP is leading on 39 seats. In Punjab provincial polls, PML-N is leading with 137 seats followed by PTI which has a lead on 117 seats. 

01:19 (IST)

Problems with Result Transmission System, reports Samaa TV Pakistan's Samaa TV reported that there are problems with the Result Transmission System of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The report said that there were complaints that the system is being choked, there are connectivity issues, and the workers are having to reboot the system again and again. There have been complaints about the poll workers being poorly trained to deal with the Result Transmission System.

01:18 (IST)

Watch: Imran Khan arrives at PTI headquarters after early trends suggest his party's lead 

01:09 (IST)

First time in Pakistan's history that five political parties claimed elections were rigged, says PML-N leader Senator Mushahid Hussain of the PML-N said that this was not an election but a selection. "It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that five political parties representatives have raised objections over the election process especially counting," he claimed as his party raised severe allegations against the election commission and the polling authorities.  

01:05 (IST)

Shehbaz Sharif claims PML-N agents intentionally deprived of Form 15 

01:00 (IST)

Pakistan Rangers reject PPP's charge that Bilawal Bhutto's polling ejected thrown out from Lyari polling station According to The Dawn, sources with the Pakistan Rangers have denied the PPP's charges that its personnel forcefully ejected Bilawal Bhutto’s chief polling agent, Yusuf Baloch, from a polling station in Lyari. "Rangers were not deployed inside the polling station, therefore, the question of ejecting Bilawal Bhutto’s chief polling agent from the polling station does not arise," said a paramilitary force official who wished not to be named. 

00:58 (IST)

Shehbaz Sharif rejects poll outcome, says will decide future action after consulting other parties PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif addressed a press conference soon after trends started turning into a clear unassailable lead for Imran Khan's PTI. He rejected the results and claimed that the poll panel failed to conduct a free and fair poll. He also said that the party will announce its future course of action after consulting with other parties as well. He claimed that it is a serious form of rigging. "The results are being stopped and people have been deprived of their democratic right," he said. 

00:45 (IST)

PTI unassailable in Peshawar: Party wins all five NA seats; grabs 11 out of 12 provincial seats  Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has registered a massive win in the Peshawar region. The party won all the five National Assembly seats, while it bagged 11 out of the 12 provincial seats. Peshawar V (PK-70) was the only seat that they lost out to ANP candidate Khush Dil Khan with a slim margin. 

00:28 (IST)

Six Pakistani parties complain of election rigging, reports The Guardian  At least six parties, including the far-right religious outfit Tehreek-e-Labbaik, and centrist PPP have complained of the alleged blatant violation of electoral procedure.    Musadik Malik, a PML-N senator, told journalists that the rigging focused on constituencies, where there was a tight race between his party and the PTI was observed. "Our polling agents said it was security forces who told them to leave," Omar Quraishi of the PPP, told The Guardian.  From PPP  Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that election rules have been blown up and Election Commission is not ready to take any action. 

00:23 (IST)

PTI supporters celebrate in Karachi While PML-N alleged polling irregularitie, Imran Khan's PTI took a comfortable lead paving their way to probably emerge as the single largest party. Official confirmation is still awaited. The supporters of PTI celebrate in Karachi.

00:20 (IST)

We can expect continuation of status quo on issues related to foreign policy and economy: Expert The 2013 elections in Pakistan produced a fairly unipolar situation where the largest party had 100 seats more than the second largest party. Under this situation, the Parliament had a fairly marginal role to play in the country’s polity, which created all sorts of problems including civil-military power imbalance. We can see all that changing in the post 2018 scenario, said Bilal Gillani, a Islamabad-based psephologist. "We can expect continuation of status quo on issues related to foreign policy and economy. On foreign policy, military's perspective has had salience for most of the governments, which should prevail. In the field of economy, China’s continued influence is expected to continue and should be protected." However, one major change could be on the domestic politics front where positive expectation from the masses can lead to greater devolution of power. As the election mandate could be fragmented, calls for carving out new provinces, devolving power to cities and union councils may rise. However, a fall out could be a possible rise in number of power brokers, including the military and judiciary whose intervention may be sought by political players, in case of a hung parliament. Input by Arjun Sharma

00:09 (IST)

Are you ready for Prime Minister Imran Khan? PTI tweets Bolstered by local media's claims of PTI emerging as the single largest party, the party tweeted: Are you ready for Prime Minister Imran Khan?

00:02 (IST)

PTI wins Charsadda-I and II NA-23 (CHARSADDA - 1) Winner: ANWAR TAJ Party Name: PTI Total Votes: 9,098 Runner-up: HAJI ZAFAR ALI KHAN Party Name: MMAP Total Votes: 5918,Polling Stations(%):15 NA-24 (CHARSADDA - 2)   Winner: FAZAL MUHAMMAD KHAN Party Name: PTI Total Votes: 15,224 Runner-up: ASFANDYAR WALI KHAN Party Name: ANP Total Votes: 9,293

23:58 (IST)

PML-N raises serious concerns over mistreatment of polling agents; ECP rubbishes claims PML-N has raised serious concerns about the mistreatment of its polling agents in the polling stations and has termed it a rigging. Its former lawmaker has told media that its polling agents were not allowed to sit during the counting of votes. ECP secretary Babar Yaqoub has denied the claims saying only one polling agent was allowed while parties were having more than one so they were told to leave the polling station.

23:54 (IST)

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan observed political content of ECP's performance leaves much to be desired The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has observed the electoral process across Pakistan over the past several months, paying special attention to reports of violence, allegations of pre-poll manipulation and the arrangements put in place by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). On polling day, the Commission’s monitoring teams carried out detailed observation in 67 National Assembly constituencies, including 12 in Balochistan, 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, 21 in Punjab and ICT, and 20 in Sindh. HRCP's preliminary report is based on data from its observers in the field. The Commission will release a detailed report of its observations in the next several days.   HRCP commends the electorate for its commitment to democracy and representative selection, especially in the face of three devastating suicide attacks. The commission strongly condemns the attack that occurred in Quetta, which has left at least 30 people dead, and expresses its deepest condolences with their families.   Overall, HRCP observed that the ECP’s performance leaves much to be desired. While the latter has carried out its clerical functions reasonably well, the political content of its work has fallen short of expectations. Polling schemes were poorly rationalized, with many voters in the Lahore Cantonment, for instance, indicating they did not know where to go to vote. This text is part of the press release by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

23:39 (IST)

PTI's rise points at rise of a middle class in Punjab According to psephologist Bilal Gillani, the elections 2018 are a clear departure from earlier trends in the country's elections. Firstly, the Pakistan Muslim League (both its factions, PML-N and PML-Q) appears to have dwindled in its influence after almost three decades of dominating Punjab politics. This may mark a change at the policies at the national level, including the PML-N’s general approach of reconciliation with its neighbours.  Secondly, the rise of PTI points to the rise of a middle class in Punjab, which in turn is reflective of rising urbanisation, rising proportion of tertiary education, and a long term decline of business class because of rapid de-industrialisation. PML-N failed to adapt to these changes in the demography and people’s aspirations. Hence, it ended up ceding space to PTI, which promptly rose to the occasion. The new election would help in fostering a more competitive and adversarial politics in the country, forcing Parliament to be a more functional institution. Input by Arjun Sharma

23:35 (IST)

PML-N, PPP and MQM allege polling irregularities Three main political parties PML-N, PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement have alleged polling irregularities and violations. They blamed the officials that their polling agents were not permitted inside the polling stations across various places and their voters were not provided electoral forms during the polling. By Haroon Janjua, Islamabad

23:32 (IST)

'Quietly confident' Imran Khan at the head quarters Singer Salman Ahmad tweeted a photo of PTI's Imran Khan. "A few hours left  to Freedom in the control room w/ the Skipper @ImranKhanPTI at head quarters. IK quietly confident."

23:28 (IST)

ECP rebutted PML-N claims ECP rebutted PML-N leaders claims that their party’s designated representatives in some polling stations were not allowed to remain inside to monitor the transparency of vote count. Election results are also being delayed in some areas which causeed unrest particularly among Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League in Punjab. Despite Nadra’s clarification, in some places result couldn't be sent electronically.

23:13 (IST)

New govt in Pakistan must come out of cold-war mentality: Ram Madhav BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said that India is keeping a close watch on Pakistan election results. "The new government in Pakistan must come out of the 'cold war mentality'. He hoped that the new regime reciprocates India’s “approach of sovereign equality, natural friendship, and not just go by pre-conditions.”

23:12 (IST)

PML-N will not allow rob-mandate: Maryam Aurangzeb PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb spoke to the media and said that the party had reservations and will not allow anyone to rob mandate. She further said that during counting PML-N polling agents were asked to leave the place.

23:09 (IST)

PTI leads in 101 seats: ECP ECP figures confirm PTI leading in 101 seats; PML-N in 74 and PPP on 38.

23:05 (IST)

According to Geo News, PTI leads in 84 seats, PML-N in 58, PPP in 26

22:55 (IST)

Early trends put PTI in lead across Pakistan Unofficial results on the local Pakistani TV channels depicts an early lead across the  country for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by crickter-turned-politician Imran Khan, according to initial reports of the results. Imran Khan, key campaigner in the Wednesday’s poll, is gaining across the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces defeating ousted PM Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N in his stronghold Punjab province and expected to win in the polls. Punjab, the most important battleground, has maximum constituencies total 141 elected National Assembly seats and makes more than half of the total 272 elected seats in the National Assembly. Input by Haroon Janjua, Islamabad

22:41 (IST)

PTI's Shah Mahmood Qureshi wins Multan III seat, defeats PML-N's Amir Ansari with 19,968 votes PTI's Shah Mahmood Qureshi has won the NA-156 Multan III with 93,497 votes against PML-N's Amir Ansari who got 73,529 votes. 

22:23 (IST)

Pakistani authorities deny rumours that Result  Transmission System had collapsed A spokesman of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has denied reports that its Result Transmission System had collapsed. "The transmission system is fully working," the spokesman said. He said that District Returning Officers (DROs) and presiding officers were sending the election results through the application smoothly. ECP is automatically receiving the results.  NADRA had prepared an online application to be used by ECP for direct transmission of results.

21:56 (IST)

Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi trails in Rawalpindi-I  Former Pakistani prime minister and PML-N veteran Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is trailing on the second spot with 4,677 votes in NA-57 (Rawalpindi-I). PTI’s Sadaqat Abbasi is leading with 6,394 votes, unofficial reports on counting suggest. 

21:52 (IST)

PTI appears buoyant with early leads in poll results, says 'Pakistan you have done it' 

21:48 (IST)

PTI leads on 90 National Assembly seats, PML-N claims second spot with lead on 60 seats  PTI is leading with 90 National Assembly (NA) seats followed by 60 for PML-N in initial results. In Punjab both parties are seeing a close contest while in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), PTI is all set to regain the territory it ruled during the last five years. 

21:44 (IST)

Bilawal Bhutto ahead in Karachi, Asif Zardari leads in Shaheed Benazirabad-I PPP has maintained a lead in the party's traditional strongholds. Former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has maintained a lead in Shaheed Benazirabad-I and Nawabshah, while Bilawal Bhutto is ahead in Karachi and Larkana seats, media reports said. 

21:25 (IST)

PML-N leads in three key constituencies in heart of Punjab province  Punjab province, which remains a bastion of the Sharifs'-led PML-N party. The party candidates are maintaining a steady lead in the following constityuencies.  NA-125 (Lahore-III): PML-N’s Waheed Alam leads with 2313 votes, PTI’s Yasmin Rashid has 673 votes. NA-128 (Lahore VI): PML-N’s Rohail Asghar leads with 88 votes, PTI’s Aijaz Ahmed has 41. NA-78 (Narowal-II): PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal leads in Narowal-2 with 313 votes, Abrarul Haq has 103 votes.

21:14 (IST)

PML-N's Raja Matloob Mehdi leads in NA-67 Jhelum According to Geo News, PML-N's Raja Matloob Mehdi is leading with 1056 votes in NA-67 (Jhelum-II) seat. PTI's Pawad Chaudhry is trailing with 457 votes. 

21:07 (IST)

A timeline of administrations in Pakistan: How military regimes stack against civilian governments   

21:03 (IST)

13 transgender candidates in fray in Pakistan elections  For the first time in Pakistan's political history have transgender people have come out from the shadows to participate actively in the polling process to try and instate a democratic government. Not only are 13 transgender people contesting the polls this time, but the country's election commission has also for the first time the duty of "observers" to the members of the transgender community. According to Time, 25 members of the community have been appointed as election observers. 

20:52 (IST)

Balochistan bleeds on election day  Elections in Balochistan province were marred by incidents of violence. According to The Guardian, around 40 people were killed and over 600 were injured in the province in nine separate attacks. The last attack was carried out on a polling station in Buleda, a border town with Iran, and killed three security officers, including a teacher who was part of election staff.

20:48 (IST)

PPP leads in NA-1 Chitral seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  Pakistani news site The Dawn reported that PPP has maintained a lead in Imran Khan's PTI-ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Here are the prelimnary results based on counting from 139 of the 294 polling stations.   Saleem Khan (PPPP): 239 votes Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali (MMAP): 188 votes

20:43 (IST)

Bilawal Bhutto leads in Lyari seat, say reports According to an update by Samaa TV, Bilawal Bhutto is leading with 1,754 votes in NA-246 (Lyari) seat. His party, the Pakistan People's Party is leading at 26 seats and is on the third position. Imran Khan's PTI is leading with 60 seats while PML-N is on the second slot with 41 seats. 

20:39 (IST)

PTI leads in Mianwali II seat, say reports Here are the current trends from Mianwali II seat (NA-96).   Amjid Ali Khan (PTI): 28,379 votes Muhammad Humair Hayat (PML-N): 5,393 votes The report is based on 53 of the 355 polling stations.

20:29 (IST)

PTI candidates leading in Rawalpindi, Lodhran 2; PML-N ahead in Peshawar-III PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar is leading in NA-59 Rawalpindi, while the party's Muhammad Shafiq is ahead in NA-161 Lodhran-2. PML-N’s Amir Muqam leads in NA-29 Peshawar-III, Geo News reported citing unofficial results from 0.33 percent polling stations.

20:28 (IST)

Imran Khan leading in NA-95 Mianwali, reports Geo News PTI chairman Imran Khan is leading in NA-95 Mianwali, reports Geo News citing unofficial results from 3.78 percent polling stations. Khan also maintains a lead in Islamabad II (NA-17) seat, according to PTV. 

20:26 (IST)

Imran Khan maintains lead over PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in NA-53 (Islamabad-II)  According to PTV news, Imran Khan has maintained a massive lead over PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad II constituency. The PTI chief was pitted against former Pakistani prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the crucial National Assembly seat. 

20:21 (IST)

 PTI's Omar Ayub Khan reverses early trend, takes lead in NA-17   Pakistani media has reported that PTI's Omar Ayub Khan has taken lead over PML-N's Babar Nawaz Khan in NA-17. Earlier, Geo TV had reported that Babar was leading with 302 votes against Omar's 10 votes. 

20:11 (IST)

In National Assembly polls, early trends suggest PTI leads in two seats, PML-N ahead on three According to Geo TV news, the following are the early trends of the polls.  PTI’s Muhammad Shafiq leads in NA-161 Lodhran-2: Unofficial  PTI’s Tahir Sadiq leads in NA-55 Attock-I PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal leads in NA 78 Narowal-2: PML-N’s Amir Muqam leads in NA-29  PML-N’s Babar Nawaz Khan leads in NA-17

Pakistan Election Results 2018 latest updates: Senator Mushahid Hussain of the PML-N said that this was not an election but a selection. "It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that five political parties representatives have raised objections over the election process especially counting," he claimed as his party raised severe allegations against the election commission and the polling authorities.

Pakistan's Samaa TV reported that there are problems with the Result Transmission System of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The report said that there were complaints that the system is being choked, there are connectivity issues, and the workers are having to reboot the system again and again. There have been complaints about the poll workers being poorly trained to deal with the Result Transmission System.

PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif addressed a press conference soon after trends started turning into a clear unassailable lead for Imran Khan's PTI. He rejected the results and claimed that the poll panel failed to conduct a free and fair poll. He also said that the party will announce its future course of action after consulting with other parties as well.

The Election Commission of Pakistan Secretary, while addressing the delay, said the results will be shared as soon as they are in. "We want to give you accurate results and we will have them as soon as they are in," Babar Yaqoob told reporters. Polls have closed in key Pakistan parliamentary and provincial elections that were marred by violence, with first results expected to start coming in by 7pm local time.

According to Samaa TV, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is leading in 103 seats, Nawaz Sharif's PML-N leads in 46 seats. Reports have also claimed that Imran might be preparing his victory speech way before the official results are announced. Meanwhile, three main political parties — PML-N, PPP and MQM alleged polling irregularities.

The unofficial results on the local Pakistan TV channels show an early lead across the country for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by crickter-turned-politician Imran Khan. Imran, the key campaigner in the Wednesday’s poll, is leading across the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces defeating ousted PM Nawaz Sharif's PML-N in his stronghold Punjab province and expected to win in the polls. Punjab, the most important battleground, has maximum constituencies total 141 elected National Assembly seats and makes more than half of the total 272 elected seats in the National Assembly.

Imran Khan's PTI has taken a lead in NA-54 Islamabad-III and NA-117, Nankana Sahib-I seats in Punjab province, which is considered a bastion of the PML-N.  

PTI is leading on 90 National Assembly (NA) seats followed by PML-N which is ahead on 60 seats. In Punjab both parties are seeing a close contest while in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), PTI is all set to regain the territory it ruled during the last five years.

According to latest reports in Pakistan media, PTI chief Imran Khan is leading with 762 votes with 182 votes for PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in NA-53 Islamabad-II. According to Samaa TV, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is leading with 3,461 votes in NA-213 Nawabshah. GDA’s Sheer Muhammad Rind is second with 558 votes.

According to latest reports in Pakistan media, Imran Khan's PTI is leading in 12 seats. Nawaz Sharif's PML-N is leading in five seats out of 33, unofficial reports at Samaa TV claimed.

PTI chairman Imran Khan is leading in NA-95 Mianwali seat, Geo News reported citing unofficial results. Khan also maintains a lead in Islamabad II (NA-17) seat, according to PTV.

Pakistani media has reported that PTI's Omar Ayub Khan has taken lead over PML-N's Babar Nawaz Khan in NA-17. Reports also claimed that PTI’s Muhammad Shafiq is leading in NA-161 Lodhran-2.

Several channels and media reports said that the counting of votes has begun in Pakistan. Polling in Pakistan concluded at 6 pm Pakistan Standard Time.  Pakistan's Election Commission has denied the PML-N's request to extend the deadline for polling until 7 pm.

Even after the official voting time ended large queues were still being witnessed in many areas of the country, including Punjab and Sindh. However, the poll panel has said that only those people who entered the premises of polling stations will be allowed to vote.

Election Commission of Pakistan has issued a notice to Imran Khan for alleged breach of secrecy of ballot by stamping on ballot in public view. He has been asked to appear before the commission on 30 July at 10 am.The Shehbaz Sharif-led party had said that delays in voting has caused inconvenience to people standing in long queues, and sought a one-hour extension under Article 70 of the Election Act 2017.

Transgenders, who are working as election observers, complained of harassment in Pakistan. They were reportedly denied entry in a polling station in Afghan Colony and Faqirabad locality of Peshawar. Women in Dir made history on Wednesday by voting for the first time in the history of country.

Voting has resumed at Quetta's Tameer-e-Nau Model School polling station, which was earlier rocked by a suicide blast that left 31 dead, reported Dawn.

Voters queue in Karachi’s Baldia Town area for casting their votes. Image courtesy: Zia Ur Rehman

Pakistan election commission has decided to proceed against politicians who talked to media — PTI chief Imran Khan is also facing electoral body’s disciplinary action. The commission has termed this violation of its code of ethics. Media houses will also be served notices, say ECP officials. Express News reported that his vote may be cancelled as he violated the "secrecy of ballot" rule after his voting exercise was captured on video.

With Wednesday's attack in Quetta, the death toll from election-related violence in last two weeks in run up to the Pakistan polls reached 203, with the same number of people injured. Earlier, an attack also took place in Mastung area of Balochistan in which 149 people were killed in a suicide blast.

A Pakistan hospital official says an explosion outside crowded polling station in southwestern city of Quetta has killed 25 people and wounded 40. Jaffer Kakar, a doctor, says five policemen and two children are among the dead. He fears the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are in critical condition.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan cast his vote at Dhoke Jilani polling station in NA-53 Islamabad. He urged people to come out and vote.

The death toll has risen to 22 people and 28 injured in a blast in Quetta's Eastern Bypass area. Injured have been hospitalised at the Civil Hospital. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has directed the private satellite TV channels to stop airing any content related to Pakistan's 11th general election.

The blast, which took place in NA-264 Quetta, Pakistan, has left at least 10 dead, including two security officials, and more than 15 injured, including security personnel. The blast took place near a police vehicle close to a polling station.

Meanwhile, LeT chief Hafiz Saeed cast his vote in Lahore. A new entrant in the fray this year is Milli Muslim League, the political front of blacklisted Islamic organisation Jamat-ud Dawa, which in turn is purportedly the charitable front of militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba. The party was founded in 2017 with the intention to make Pakistan "a truly Islamic and welfare state."  After the ECP denied recognition to the MML, JuD chief Saeed announced that around 200 candidates of his party would contest the polls under the banner of a little-known party, the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), which is already registered with the election commission.

At least 25 people, including police officials, have been killed in a blast in Quetta. Image courtesy: Imran Mukhtar

A blast has been heard in Quetta's Eastern Bypass area in Pakistan. Several people are reportedly injured, according to news reports. Police and rescue teams have rushed to the site.

On Wednesday, 9.15 am, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swabi district, ANP workers fired at PTI workers which left one PTI worker dead and three injured. The names of the injured are: Muktair, Saleem, Shahzad, while Shazaib is the name of the deceased.

Firing has been reported from Swabi district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Three people have reportedly been killed in the incident. Meanwhile, Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of the National Assembly and PML-N candidate of NA-129 Lahore, told reporters that the voting process was going on at a snail's speed.

According to reports, power outage delayed voting across several polling stations in Peshawar in Pakistan, which resulted in difficulties for women voters and election staff.

Polling has yet to begin in Lahore's NA-128 polling stations as the staff is yet to reach the venue, reported Dawn. According to the Pakistani daily, voting in Nawabshah too did not begin on time, as election agents were not allowed to enter the polling station.

Voting across 270 National Assembly and 577 general seats to provincial assemblies in Pakistan has begun. In all, 10,59,55,409 voters will cast their votes in 840 constituencies of the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies of the country.

Elections have been postponed in eight national and provincial assembly constituencies in Pakistan which goes to the polls today, according to a media report. In one of the constituencies, a candidate had been disqualified while in the other seven, the contesting candidates had passed away, the Express Tribune reported.

Pakistan is set to elect its next civilian government at the national and provincial level. The Pakistan general election, which has been marred with controversies, allegations of military interventions and terrorist attacks on candidates, will finally conclude on Wednesday with counting the same day. The election is also important as while the national parties will be testing their reach, radical groups like Allah-o-Takbeer—a political front of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)—and several others like it are contesting the elections with the promise of bringing a Sharia government in Pakistan.

Election schedule: polling and counting

According to the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP), polling will start at 8 am (8.30 am IST) today and will go on till 6 pm (6.30 pm IST). The counting of votes usually begins soon after polling is concluded. This year too, the ECP is likely to follow a similar schedule despite an hour's extension in polling.

The results, along with who is in the lead and who is trailing, begin to emerge around 11 pm. Counting, however, goes on till 1-2 am. The disputed seats are counted again the next day, and the result is officially declared by 1 or 2 pm the next day.

People queue up outside a polling station in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa. Riazul Haq/ 101Reporters

Key parties

On 25 July, Pakistan will seal the future of over 95 political parties, which are in the fray for 272 seats in the National Assembly, and to form governments at the provincial level.

At the national level, a party needs to win 172 seats to form a government on its own. The main competition—both at the national and provincial level—will be between the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Bilawal Bhutto Zardari-led Pakistan People's Party and independent candidates. The latter could play the role of power brokers, as they did in the 2013 polls.

There are also regional parties and alliances, such as the Grand Democratic Alliance (GAD) formed by five political parties — Pir Paghara's Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Quami Awami Tehreek (QAT), National People's Party (NPP), Pakistan People's Party Workers (PPPW) and People's Muslim League Pakistan (PML-P); extremist groups such as the revived Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Jamaat-e-Islami, Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (a political wing of the JuD and a front of the Lashkar-e-Taiba). The GAD is likely to play spoilsport for the PPP as it contains several defectors from the party. As for hardcore religious groups like the Jamaat-e-Islamia and Allah-o-Akbar-Tehreek, they can dent the PML-N's conservative vote bank.

Then there are regional parties such as the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) of Bacha Khan's followers. Presenting a stiff competition to Imran's PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the Balochistan National Party (BNP).

Key candidates

According to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan, about 3,675 candidates are fighting for seats in the National Assembly, and about 8,895 are in the fray for the legislatures of all four provinces.

After ousted Pakistan prime minister and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz had to drop out of the political race, following their conviction in the Avenfield reference, Nawaz's brother Shehbaz Sharif emerged as PML-N's prime ministerial face. Shehbaz, former chief minister of Punjab, is known for his administrative abilities, but he has yet to emerge as a top contender against Imran. With Nawaz out of the way, the cricketer-turned-politician appears to have no contender.

PPP's Bilawal has a following, but he has not proved his mettle as an able leader yet. PPP, as well as regional parties, may gain prominence only if there is no clear mandate. In case an alliance is formed, irrespective of which parties come together — there are reports of a PPP-PTI alliance — it is unlikely that Bilawal will get preference over Shehbaz or Imran. So far, the only top contenders for the prime minister's post are Shehbaz and Imran.

The other candidates to watch out for are Bilawal's father Asif Ali Zardari and former Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Key issues

As leaders engage in mudslinging and lash out at each other over remarks or controversies, a lot of issues have been highlighted during the Pakistan election campaigns, ranging from the state of the economy to the dangerous trend of threatening and attacking journalists, military intervention, water supply, healthcare, terrorism and foreign policy.

Corruption may just be the most important election issue this time. Most prominent Pakistani politicians are either talking about ending corruption or are involved in corruption-related controversies themselves.

While Imran has been banking on Nawaz and Maryam's conviction in the Avenfield reference as a major win against corruption and has also been promising to put other corrupt leaders behind bars, his alleged misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government's helicopters and the mega Bus Rapid Transport project in the province has come under the National Accountability Bureau's scanner.

On the other hand, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto lashed out at Imran for speaking out against corruption. He accused the PTI chief of being corrupt himself. "Up till now, Nawaz was defaming politics, but now Imran Niazi has taken up this task (sic)," Geo TV quoted Bhutto as saying.

Relations with India is another major poll issue. Religious radical parties in Pakistan are rousing anti-India sentiments and making it a poll issue against PML-N candidates as well as Imran, whose anti-India stand has become a major poll rhetoric to sway the youth.

Fears have also mounted over Pakistan's economic stability before the elections, as the caretaker government pledged to stem the current account deficit by using rapidly dwindling foreign currency reserves, reported AFP.

There is growing speculation that the country will have to seek a loan package from the International Monetary Fund after the elections — for the second time since 2013 — amid fears of a balance of payments crisis.

"We have to finance this gap of the trade deficit of $25 billion by depleting our reserves. There is no other option," caretaker finance minister Shamshad Akhtar said at a press conference. "This is a major worry for our government."

Terrorism is another major issue in the region, which has affected not just civilians but politicians alike. While political rallies and candidates of the Awami National Party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Balochistan Awami Party in Balochistan were attacked mostly because of their anti-terrorism stand, most recently, Imran's PTI, have made it clear that not even those who share a good rapport with radicals are not safe in Pakistan. Then there's the issue of the safety and security of journalists and the Pakistan Army and ISI's relentless meddling into State affairs.

Tags: #Awami National Party #Balochistan #Balochistan Awami Party #Bilawal Bhutto Zardari #Corruption #Election News #Imran Khan #Islamabad #Judiciary #Khyber Pakhtunkhwa #National Assembly #Nawaz Sharif #NewsTracker #Pakistan #Pakistan Army #Pakistan election #pakistan election 2018 #Pakistan general election 2018 #Pakistan polls #PML-N #PPP #Provincial Assembly #PTI #Punjab #Shehbaz Sharif #Sindh

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